Way before Baguio was popular to tourists for its cold climate, yummy strawberries and lush green parks, Baguio started out as a mining town. Surprisingly, the city of Pines had gold tucked in somewhere along its mountain ridges, and there still are a few veins 100 years later, to be found at the Balatoc Mines.
In the mining town of Itogon, Benguet and located right outside the city of Baguio, Balatoc Mines used to be a hub of mining activity. In the year 1997, it opened its doors to the exciting opportunity for visitors who would want to become miners for a day. Visitors will get to ride the underground locomotive train to the renowned Vegas Tunnel. They will be able to learn about the entire process of gold mining as well as each stage to be performed. To make the experience even more realistic, visitors are asked to wear complete mining outfits along with the proper safety gear.
Aside from the mines in Balatoc, travelers can also stop by a 6-hectare forest called Crosby Park with a magnificent view of the mountains, deep valleys, gorges and the rolling slopes of Benguet. It is situated at 1,150 meters above sea level compared to the 1,500 meters that of Baguio. The park area is great for camping, hiking, picnics, sports exercising, walking and even photography. Crosby Park is also a campsite with has its own obstacle course where adventurous travelers can opt to spend the night in the great outdoors.
Visiting the mines of Balatoc is a great experience for family vacations, office outings and especially school excursions. It is not, however, recommended for infants, toddlers or very young children. The experience requires you to go deep into a tunnel and be a miner for a day. Despite assurance of all safety measures for the visitors, the tunnel is not a place for children too young to appreciate the activity. The Crosby Park, on the other hand, is a great place for kids to enjoy. Know that vehicles can only park at the base of the hill, which means that all visitors would need to climb on foot to get to the top.
The town of Itohon where the mines are is located 16 kilometers away from downtown Baguio City, which is about 30 minutes away by car. Upon departure from Session Road, go straight to the Loakan Road. From there, continue until you go past the main entrance of Camp John Hay, which continues until you reach the Philippine Military Academy or PMA. After PMA, take a left turn at the Kias junction and head on to the town of Balatoc.
Visitors who do not have private transports can use public jeepneys by use of the Plaza-Balatoc-Acupan line to get to the town of Balatoc. Travelers may also hire taxi cabs for a day to take you to and from the town. Fares usually charge on a per hour basis, which includes waiting time. If you plan to go in a large group, the best option is to hire a jeepney instead. Thus, for travelers who have a curiosity for mining, head on to the Balatoc Mines and the Crosby Park for a rather unique experience.